I am glad to see the Empire report on the misguided plans of a businessman to place "problem bears" in the concrete wastewater tanks at the defunct Sitka Pulp Mill site (Tanks may house bears, Aug. 11). However, the story misleads the public to believe no choice exists for "problem bears" - they must be killed or imprisoned in the tanks for life.
The Center for Biological Diversity is opposed to the bear zoo because it offers a short-term, feel good solution to a long-term problem. Research done by biologists in Sitka and elsewhere in Alaska clearly shows that improper trash disposal is the single greatest cause of "problem bears."
The Kootzenoo bear zoo will create a false sense of security for Sitka and other communities that a safe haven for these bears exists, thereby diluting efforts to prevent bears access to human food and waste. Further, rather than creating an incentive to tackle the root of the problem, this project does just the opposite by creating a new business that is economically dependent upon the very continued existence of problem bears.
Rather than spending money on the bear zoo, Sitka should be investing in ways to create a cleaner garbage system and educational outreach program so we can keep the bears wild and the people safe over the long-term.
Center for Biological Diversity